Electrical Engineering – 1949
William A. Blackwell was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 17, 1920. He served in the United States Army Air Force from 1941–1945 in the Middle East, North African, European, and CBI Theaters. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 1949, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois in 1952, and a Ph.D. at Michigan State University in 1958.
From 1949–1950, he was a test engineer with the General Electric Company, and from 1959–1961, he was a project engineer with General Dynamics. He has held faculty positions with Texas Tech University, the University of Illinois, Michigan State University, Southern Methodist University, and Oklahoma State University. From 1966–1981, he served as Professor and Head of Electrical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
During 1981–1982, he served as a Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering at the United States Military Academy and returned to Virginia Tech in September 1982 as Professor of Electrical Engineering. During 1984–1985, he was on leave at the Southeastern Center for Electrical Engineering Education, where he was Resident Director and Provost. He returned to Virginia Tech in 1955, serving as Professor of Electrical Engineering until he assumed the title of Professor Emeritus upon retirement in 1988.
Professor Blackwell has written three textbooks, and he has had a number of technical papers published in journals and conference proceedings. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas. In addition, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education. He served as Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association from 1977–1978 and as Vice–Chairman of IEEE Southeastern 1979. During 1979–1980, he served as President of the Southeastern Center for Electrical Engineering Education and as President of the Host Lions Club of Blacksburg, Virginia.
In 1979, Professor Blackwell received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Electrical Engineering Alumni Association of the University of Illinois and the Executive of the Year Award from the New River Valley Chapter of the National Secretaries Association. In 1984, he was awarded the IEEE Centennial Medal and in 1986, the IEEE Region 3 Outstanding Educator Award. He was voted an IEEE Life Member in 1989.
Professor Blackwell is married to Sherry LaRue Tibbets, a 1949 Texas Tech graduate. They have two children, David A. Blackwell, and Rebecca Blackwell Kates, as well as two grandsons.
It is indeed a privilege for Texas Tech to designate William A. Blackwell as DISTINGUISHED ENGINEER.